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Govt gets ambitious on shale gas

Taking a cue from the US and China, the government is finalising a roadmap for large-scale commercial exploitation of shale gas — natural gas trapped in rocks — in the country’s sedimentary basins. Anupama Airy reports.

business Updated: Aug 20, 2010 02:20 IST
Anupama Airy

Taking a cue from the US and China, the government is finalising a roadmap for large-scale commercial exploitation of shale gas — natural gas trapped in rocks — in the country’s sedimentary basins.

“This (shale gas) non-conventional and green fuel is the future and can be a game changer for the economy of India, which spends over $90 billion every year on oil imports,” said a petroleum ministry official.

Mapping of shales in four basins — Cambay, Assam-Arakan, Ganga and Damodar Basins — is underway and like in the case of petroleum and coal bed methane, the government is planning to offer shale blocks for commercial exploration by August, 2011.

US has the world’s largest shale gas reserves. China comes second. Shale gas extraction involves tapping gas trapped between layers of shale rocks, similar to the extraction of gas in coal beds.

Public sector ONGC has begun studies to assess shale gas potential in the coal bed methane (CBM) blocks awarded to it in the Raniganj and North Karanpura coalfields.

“We have placed the letter of intent for this pilot project to Schlumberger in April for R128 crore,” a ONGC source said.

ONGC officials said the petroleum ministry has directed it to form of a team of representatives from the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH), ONGC, OIL and GAIL(India) Ltd to study samples and suggest steps to pursue the shale opportunity.